Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Wild Pink - Silene caroliniana   Walter
Members of Caryophyllaceae:
Members of Silene with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Caryophyllales » Family Caryophyllaceae
DistributionPresent mainly in the southern and far eastern Piedmont, the Sandhills region, and nearby areas to the east into the central Coastal Plain. Casual in the southern Mountains (Macon County).

This species is found across much of the Eastern states, but with bizarre disjunctions and gaps. It occurs from NH and southeastern NY south to eastern GA, western FL, and AL, and disjunct to southern MO. Though it occurs nearly throughout VA, including the mountains, it is essentially absent in the southern Appalachians from NC and TN southward, owing to different varieties. Unfortunately, suitable sandy (or dry mafic) habitats are not likely present in the northern mountains of the state.
AbundanceUncommon to locally infrequent in the southeastern Piedmont, and into the Sandhills. Rare to locally uncommon in the eastern Piedmont and central Coastal Plain (i.e., Orange and Harnett counties eastward). Casual in the southern Mountains. As the NCNHP lists both varieties as Watch List, the full species must also be considered as Watch List -- even though the website editors give a suggested State Rank of S3.
HabitatThis is a species of sandy soil, but not normally in deep or xeric sands, but often in thin and sandy soil around the margins of granitic flatrocks and other rock outcrops. It grows in openings in sandy woods, as well, in the Coastal Plain (where there are no granitic outcrops).
PhenologyBlooms from April to July, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a beautiful wildflower, though not familiar with many as it has a fairly small range in the state. It has several branches from the base, and the stems are generally erect and grow to about 6-8 inches tall. The stems are sticky between leaf nodes. There are basal leaves, but only 1-2 pairs of opposite leaves; each is spatulate to oblanceolate, about 2 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. At the ends of the branches are a tight flower cluster, of a handful of large flowers; each consists of a corolla tube and 5 flaring lobes, each squared off at the apex, pink to occasionally white, and a flower spread of about 1-inch across. Though at first glance it might look like a Phlox species, there really is no other species in NC that is similar when noted in bloom, with the 5 squared off petals, the very few spatulate leaves, and the sticky stem. Thankfully, the species often grows in clumps of plants rather than singly, and thus can create a showy pink mass of flowers in the spring.
Taxonomic CommentsThere are two varieties in the state; var. caroliniana, which is the one found essentially in the far southern Piedmont; and var. pensylvanica, which is a more northerly variety though it reaches the eastern Piedmont and much of the Coastal Plain.

Other Common Name(s)Sticky Catchfly
State RankS2S3 [S3]
Global RankG5
State Status[W7]
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieDare County, 2013, Kitty Hawk Woods Preserve, loamy sand powerline. DareBIUPhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieUnion County, 2011, Crooked Creek ledges, NE of Brief. UnionPhoto_natural
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